Ellen MacAskill

Organ Harvesting & the Battle Between China and Falun Gong

“There is enough circumstantial evidence to the alert the international community to what amounts to genocide.” – European Parliament Vice President on reports of Falun Gong practitioners being killed so their organs can be sold for transplants.

Falun Gong, otherwise known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practised based on a combination of ancient oriental philosophies including Buddhism and Taoism. Truthfulness, kindness and tolerance are its three pinnacles of belief. It has no formal organisation or leader. Practitioners focus on meditation to find harmony between the mind and body and look inside themselves for spiritual fulfilment. It can benefit physical as well as mental health.

Since July 1999, the Chinese Communist Party has been condemning the practice as an “evil cult.” It was branded illegal. The millions of people who had found solace in the practice since the early 1990s were persecuted. Slanderous propaganda was circulated to schools and the public, and a process of “re-education” was announced by the CCP. These terrifying Orwellian tactics continue to this day.

A growing body of evidence shows that China are using prisoners of the Falun Gong practice to fatally harvest organs from, which are sold on for profit. China does not have a formal transplantation system, so the huge amount of organs that they provide to national and international patients each year is unaccounted for. In the past they have harvested organs from executed prisoners, however the total is kept a secret.

Apparently, many of those arrested for practising Falun Gong refuse to give their real names to the police. These people then fall off the record so if they are killed it is undetectable. At a press conference in 2013, China’s Vice Minister of Health, Huang Jiefu, described the current organ procurement system as “profit-driven, unethical, and violating human rights.” He also admitted that the number of transplants performed yearly grew from several hundred in 1999 to over 10,000 in 2008. MEP Edward McMillan-Scott has stated that: “It is clear that Falun Gong is to the communist regime what the Jews were to the Gestapo.”

This week we were visited by Yuyu, who returned to Amnesty to raise awareness of this issue. She screened a film entitled “Free China: The Courage to Believe” which details the stories of two campaigners who are fighting against the punishment of their spiritual practice.

Jennifer Zeng is a former Communist Party member who went through a year of testing before being allowed to join the Party. She was convinced that it would give her a leg up in society. After the birth of her first child, she was forced to abort her second due to the one-child policy. Her health suffered. When she found Falun Gong, however, she felt transformed – she says learned to stop trying to control other people and to only control herself.

Then the CCP which Jen was loyal to, who actively promoted the practice initially, turned against it in a drastic move. Falun Gong practitioners at that point outnumbered Party members. The widespread dedication to it went against state values of Marxism and atheism, first enforced by Mao in 1949. What was once such a positive thing for China lost its influence in a heartbeat. The CCP essentially run a totalitarian regime which does not tolerate anything which will pose an ideological threat to its motives. People found and benefited from spirituality in a country which prioritised consumerism and commercial gain in the 20th century.

Jennifer was arrested for attending a Falun Gong gathering in 2000 and sentenced to one year in a forced labour camp. Police used force and electrocution and humiliation to control her, and she was denied an appeal. In the camps, prisoners work for hours each day making consumer goods such as hand-knitted sweaters. Jen even made toy rabbits for the Nestle chocolate company. All were exported to the West.

Charles Lee is an American-Chinese businessman who practised Falun Gong. When he heard about the prosecutions, and the way that the internet and media were being used to survey the “crime”, he felt compelled to return to his native country from America. Charles attempted to intercept TV channels and broadcast pro-Falun Gong information. However, he was forced to flee the country after a near miss with the police. When he returned to China a year on, he was arrested at the airport. In jail he went on near-fatal hunger strike. His case became a study for the US Congress as they began to address the issue.

Those held in labour camps for their spiritual practices are forced to display reform before they are released. Jen did this so that she could continue the fight outside. It was an extremely difficult thing to do, particularly when she was held up an as example to others who shared her beliefs.

After release, Charles and Jen were eventually reunited with their families in different parts of the world, and continue the fight for the protection of Falun Gong practitioners.

Joining Yuyu was lawyer Mrs Grace Xu, who spoke to us first-hand about her experience. She found the healing properties of Falun Gong through a roommate at university, well into the 2000s and years after the CCP launched their attack. After a decade of practising Falun Gong, Grace was arrested on her doorstep one morning. She tried to relate to us how brutal life was in the camp she was sent to, and how difficult it is for us to imagine, living in a free democratic country like the UK. She was transferred to a camp reserved for Falun Gong practitioners. Now seeking asylum in the UK, Grace has not seen her daughter for two years.

Yuyu expressed her happiness at the turnout to the event, saying that growing up in China she was faithful to the CCP and shielded from human rights issues. Only when she left did she become aware of what is hidden.

GUAI member Milia Hau, who grew up in Hong Kong, was shocked to learn the truth about Falun Gong. She says: “In Hong Kong the CCP’s influence is not as strong as in China; there are always campaigns about human rights like lawyers disappearing, political prisoners etc. But because Falun Gong is a non-mainstream religious group that most people avoid and ignore in Hong Kong, the fact that Falun Gong practitioners were tortured in China was ignored, despite loads of constant campaign booths in the city’s shopping areas. I personally think it is equally unfair torturing this group, just because their view opposed the party’s view, as torturing other groups inside China.”

Zoom out of the personal pictures, and what is being done globally? The internet has been a big hurdle in the battle between the CCP and campaigners. China censors everything online; however, people out of surveillance’s eye have managed to intercept the “Great Firewall” to provide safe and true information about Falun Gong, available without trace to Chinese internet users.

Ethan Guttman, a human rights investigator and China analyst, gave a talk at Amnesty’s annual Student Conference in Edinburgh this month, which committee members Ali and Maisie attended. He is currently completing a history of the clash between Falun Gong and the CCP. He estimates that approximately 65,000 Falun Gong adherents may have been killed for their organs between 2000 and 2008.

Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting started a petition to the UN last year, urging them to “call upon the Chinese government to immediately end the brutal persecution of Falun Gong, which is the root cause for the forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners.” It received over 1.5 million signatures in less than 5 months. The European Parliament also passed a motion last year condemning the practice. As Yuyu said, these steps are all positive, but the bureaucracy that must be broken down before real change is made means that campaigning is still as vital as ever.

Find out more about Falun Gong: http://en.falundafa.org/

Sign DAFOH’s petition to the UN: https://www.dafoh.org/petition-to-the-united-nations/

Watch the film for free: http://freechina.ntdtv.org/

Read recent article from EP Vice President: http://fofg.org/2014/01/we-recall-the-holocaust-we-should-recognize-genocide-in-china-today/ (this website also has information about how Falun Gong has been banned in Russia).

 

answering questions (2)AI student (2)ai members (2)

Ruth

Tuesday 11th March: Film Screening ‘Free China: The Courage to Believe’ and AGM Announcement

Hellooooo,

Well what an incredible week for GU’s first International Women’s Week! Thank you to Domi for organising our events, I think we covered just about all the most important reasons why International Women’s Day exists. We are also very grateful to Eileen from Rape Crisis Scotland for coming along to screen ‘Consent’. If you missed any of the events, here’s what happened.

We’ve had a very busy year, and I can safely say that even in the last few weeks, we are not slowing down!

**TUESDAY 25TH MARCH: ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (AGM) see below for more details**

Tuesday 11th March: Film Screening ‘Free China: The Courage to Believe’

5pm, Boyd Orr, Lecture Theatre 222

A film about organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China, with guest speaker Mrs. Xu who is coming to share her experiences of imprisonment and brainwashing before coming to the UK to seek asylum.

Event page

Tuesday 18th March: Guest Speaker – Young People and Trafficking

5pm, QMU

There will be a presentation by Jillian McBride from the Aberlour’s Guardianship Programme, a project in Glasgow supporting young people and children who are victims of human trafficking.

Tuesday 25th March: AGM and Ceilidh, QMU

Our AGM will be our last official Tuesday meeting of the year, but afterwards we will be having our annual ceilidh with GU Red Cross and STAR Glasgow to cheer us up and celebrate the newly elected committee!

The positions up for election will be:

President
Vice President
Secretary
Treasurer
Campaigns Coordinator
Fundraising Officer
Publicity Officer
Press Officer
Website Manager

2 x Ordinary Board Members will be elected at the beginning of term next year. This is to allow new members the opportunity to get involved, although these positions are open to all members, not just those who are new to the society.

If you are interested in running for a committee position, we will be putting together a detailed description of each role in advance of the AGM but if you have any specific questions, you can email me president@guamnesty.org.uk or the relevant committee member.

Thursday 27th March: Film Screening – ‘Blood in the Mobile’

 

6.30pm, Boyd Orr, Lecture Theatre 203

‘Blood in the Mobile’ documents the filmmaker’s journey from Nokia HQ, Finland all the way to the mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo to discover the truth about the link between our mobile phones and worst conflict in the world today.

Other events

Wednesday 12th – Saturday 15th March: Citizens Theatre – ‘Refugee Boy’ and ‘Belong’

12th – 15th Main stage production – ‘Refugee Boy
Post-show discussion following the performance on Wednesday 12 March.
15th March – ‘Belong’
‘Since January we’ve been working with the Citizens Theatre Learning Department on bringing together refugees, asylum seekers and local people to explore ‘belonging’ through poetry, song and storytelling. These workshops will culminate in an event called Belong next Saturday, 15 March, 4.30-6.30pm at the Citizens Theatre, prior to the Citizens main stage production Refugee Boy by Lemn Sissay. There will be food, fashion, music, singing, poetry, storytelling.’

Tickets are free – if you would like to go along book online or call 0141 429 0022. http://citz.co.uk/

Friday 14th March: LUSH Event

Lynn from LUSH Sauchiehall Street:

We’re holding a campaign in store next week regarding the ongoing conflict in Colombia. Our particular interest is in the Peace Community of San Jose, who we financially support through their provisions of cocoa butter for a number of our products in store. They are a self-declared neutral peace community, taking no part in the conflict between the government and rebels. Despite assassinations, intimidation and conflict they uphold the highest values of justice and peace. It would be wonderful if any of your representatives were available and would be willing to come in-store, between 1pm and 3pm, and help us to raise awareness of these human rights issues.

We will have a petition in store which we will be urging people to sign which will be presented to the Colombian government. The petition will also be available to sign online at lushpetitions.co.uk which we would be grateful if you could publicise to your social network community, in an urge to make more people aware.

Saturday 15th March: A Campaign Day with Campaign Against Arms Trade

10.30am-5pm, Renfield Centre, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HZ
What’s the link between Edinburgh and drones, or Ayrshire and the teargas turned on democracy protesters in the Middle East? What does Dundee have to do with the repression in Bahrain? Find out at an info and skills-sharing day in Glasgow on 15 March.

Sunday 23rd March: Glasgow West Amnesty International Concert Fundraiser

3pm at Wellington Church, 77 Southpark Avenue (off University Avenue), Glasgow G12 8LE. Free entry, donations at the end.

Sandie Bishop, Lamond Gillespie, violins
Flora Tzanetaki, piano

Leclair Sonata for 2 violins
Mozart Violin Sonata KV 454
Prokofiev Sonata for 2 violins
Handel Trio Sonata in G minor

See you in the BOYD ORR on Tuesday,

Ruth